Accompanying technology? Mobile computing encompasses not only the devices but also the accompanying technology which allows them to function efficiently. A few examples of such technology are WLAN’s and Bluetooth technology. WLAN (wireless local area network) A WLAN is the same as a LAN (local area network) as such that it allows users access to the internet and communicate with others in the Network. WLAN is a replacement for office cabling which introduces numerous benefits over traditional LAN’s. Schiller (2003, p. 201) points out these benefits as being: • Flexibility whilst within the WLAN coverage. Traditional wired LAN’s still restrict where you can connect to the network and also firewalls (real firewalls such as brick walls not routers) can cause problems. With a WLAN you can connect to the network anywhere within their coverage, be that building or campus or single rooms. • No required planning, wired LAN’s need wiring plans, additional cabling with the correct plugs and switches whilst WLAN’s are able to by pass these and allow for communication without previous planning. They can be set up easily after the building is finished and do not need to be installed in the very beginning, or be installed later at major costs. • WLAN’s can survive disasters such as cabling being broken or an earthquake. If the wireless devices survive then people can still communicate. In a wired system, if part of the cabling fails for any reason it can cripple all communication. • The cost is much lower then wiring in a network as additional users to the network can be added easily without major costs involved. Adding to an existing wired network can have huge costs due to having to run new wires through existing walls and installing the plugs and switches associated.
WLAN is one of the most efficient and flexible mobile computing solutions around. However it does have disadvantages from LAN’s. These points have been identified by Schiller (2003, p. 202) as: • Lower quality, due to the lower bandwidth available with radio transmissions compared to wired transmissions. The bandwidth is 1-10Mbit/s user data rate compared to 100-1000Mbit/s in wired networks. As well as higher error rates due to interference which then incorporates higher delay because of the error detection mechanisms. • Standards are still being worked out and differ in different areas around the world causing problems. It is hard to establish global solutions due to these inconsistencies. • Security is a big disadvantage as radio waves for data transmission are able to get interfered with easily by other high-tech equipment. It is also much easier to eavesdrop in on a WLAN system, and all standards must offer encryption, privacy and anonymity mechanisms.
Bluetooth Bluetooth technology was introduced into the mainstream market a few years ago to deal with the interconnection between smaller mobile computing devices such as mobile phones. An article published by Phillips Business Information's Communications Standards News (1999) stated The Bluetooth technology is a specification covering small form factor, low-cost, wireless communication for networking between PCs, mobile phones and other portable devices. It is claimed that the Bluetooth technology will at re-define the personal communications market by expanding the capabilities of mobile devices and making these devices work better together. According to market research firm Cahners In-Stat Group, there will be over 670 million Bluetooth enabled devices worldwide by 2005. Bluetooth enabled devices are able to connect together and work in union. An example of Bluetooth technology is in Car kits. Bringing a Bluetooth enabled phone within the car will make it automatically connect with the Car kit and when a call is received it will allow hands free communication. The network or area under Bluetooth is relatively small and designed for smaller Mobile computing devices.